Inhibition of EZH2 ameliorates bacteria-induced liver injury by repressing RUNX1 in dendritic cells

Cell Death Dis. 2020 Dec 1;11(11):1024. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-03219-w.


Fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) is a clinical syndrome characterized by a sudden and severe impairment in liver function. However, the precise mechanism of immune dysregulation that is significant to FHF pathogenesis remains unclear. Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) has been implicated in inflammation as a regulator of immune cell function. In this study, we investigated the role of EZH2 in an animal model of human FHF induced by Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We demonstrated that EZH2 depletion in dendritic cells (DCs) and pharmacological inhibition of EZH2 using GSK126 both significantly ameliorated liver injury and improved the survival rates of mice with P. acnes plus LPS-induced FHF, which could be attributed to the decreased infiltration and activation of CD4+ T cells in the liver, inhibition of T helper 1 cells and induction of regulatory T cells. The expression of EZH2 in DCs was increased after P. acnes administration, and EZH2 deficiency in DCs suppressed DC maturation and prevented DCs from efficiently stimulating CD4+ T-cell proliferation. Further mechanistic analyses indicated that EZH2 deficiency directly increased the expression of the transcription factor RUNX1 and thereby suppressed the immune functions of DCs. The functional dependence of EZH2 on RUNX1 was further illustrated in DC-specific Ezh2-deficient mice. Taken together, our findings establish that EZH2 exhibits anti-inflammatory effects through inhibition of RUNX1 to regulate DC functions and that inhibition of EZH2 alleviates P. acnes plus LPS-induced FHF, probably by inhibiting DC-induced adaptive immune responses. These results highlight the effect of EZH2 on DCs, serving as a guide for the development of a promising immunotherapeutic strategy for FHF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury, Chronic / genetics*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury, Chronic / pathology
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / chemically induced*
  • Liver Failure, Acute / genetics
  • Mice
  • Propionibacterium acnes / pathogenicity*


  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • Runx1 protein, mouse
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein
  • Ezh2 protein, mouse